IAB Offers Standards for Sharing Ad Impression Data

The Interactive Advertising Bureau has unveiled a document that standardizes certain industry terms. Its purpose is to help resolve the surprisingly large number of discrepancies that occur when impression data is exchanged between publishers and third-party ad servers. Such discrepancies can range from simple mislabeling of certain buys to different ways of labeling a certain category.

The Impression Exchange Solution identifies the functional requirements for the automated exchange of impression data between publishers and third-party ad servers, thus allowing publishers and agencies to detect and address discrepancies in near real-time.

Developed by the IAB’s Ad Ops Council, the Impression Exchange Solution is a product of an ongoing joint initiative between the IAB and the American Association of Advertising Agencies: the Interactive Reinvention Task Force.

The IAB was not available to comment on its new tool as its executives were all in meetings, spokesperson Marla Aaron told the E-Commerce Times.

Web 2.0 Meets Automation

It may seem odd that an industry birthed from Web 2.0 would lack a standard way of comparing terms or media buys, but that has been the case.

The end result is that people on both sides of the transaction spend a great deal of time and energy cross-checking paperwork to make sure all is in order, Deborah Armstrong, senior VP of sales and marketing at Mediaspace Solutions, told the E-Commerce Times.

“With third-party ad servers, “publishers have one set of numbers, agencies have another — and line item comparisons are incredibly time consuming,” she said.

Comparing 1 Million Impressions

“For example, we might order, for a particular client, a run in a sports section. We might label the run ‘sport section’ in our internal records — but the publisher might use its own internal numeric code,” continued Armstrong.

When the impression buys are large — 1 million, for instance — it is easy to see how discrepancies can tie up the system.

“This new way of having designators for programs so everyone is calling them the same thing — that will allow us to do line-item comparisons much faster,” Armstrong said.

Of course, there is no guarantee all of the players will adopt these terms, she continued. “Buy-in — playing by the rules — is going to be important if this is going to succeed.”

At first glance, though, it appears the industry is eager for a solution.

“It seems like the aim is to create greater transparency for agencies via more granular reporting, which should equate to greater insight and easier reconciliation,” Michael Katz, president of interCLICK, told the E-Commerce Times. “Empowering agencies to make better business decisions on behalf of their clients is something we all should be doing, so I commend them in their efforts.”

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